Retirement, Extract and Draft.

Back from Cambodia!

Back to my beautiful home! Back to the work of teaching music, making preserves for my market stall, gardening in my vegetable garden, writing and publishing my next books, and feeding and looking after my animals (that includes extracting honey from my bees – such wonderful insects).meandbees

Love it!

Do you think it is time I thought about a gentle retirement?

Never!! It is this lifestyle that keeps my brain going, and my health fine.

I have three books in draft form, two already being illustrated.

While I’m on the subject of books -:

In the last few weeks,, my program of choice for publishing (Createspace) has merged with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Now … I understand that may be a wise Alphacoversbusiness decision – but I am NOT HAPPY!

Why?

Because now I cannot get my paperback books posted from America. This is the case for all Australian authors and customers, so it is not just me affected. Even though I had asked Createspace last year if this would be the case, and they said no, I now find I’m dropped like a hot potato!

I’m looking for a similar type of app that is Australian. Damn nuisance, as I have over thirty books involved. (unless I can find another way to get them).

So – back to basics – start all over again! Damn!

As I have been in Cambodia, and finally Australia got rain, (thankfully – I’m not complaining), I left a brown and desperate landscape and have arrived back to a lush, very wet, green environment. The garden needs tender loving care and some hard work.

I’ve already planted beetroot, and cucumber seeds – pulled out the lettuces that went to seed in my absence (the goat loved them) and weeded a bit of my raised garden beds. The ‘lawn’ will have to wait until it has dried out before I can run the ride-on lawnmower over the two foot high grass!!

I have made tomato sauce (ketchup to Americans), peanuts are in my bowl ready to make peanut butter, and egg mayonnaise is next. Also going through my recipe cache – what about I add lip balm, vanilla extract, Christmas decorations and beetroot relish to my stock pile? I love to make something as little different to most other stall holders. (Need some recipes? Contact me!)

Aah! Life is full and couldn’t be better.

Retirement?

No way!

With Kindness.

Maureen

P.S. – my ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ book is now up for sale. Check out the chapter on the next page ( readeatdream.net/ free-childrens-picture-book ).  If you want to know how it finishes, you’ll have to buy the book!img312

Mean of me, I know! Just let me know, and for $15AU I’ll send it to you (you will have to add $3AU for postage in Australia – $5AU if you live overseas).

I will be giving you a range of my short stories to read next before I put out an anthology of same – starting from next post.

I will also have more artwork, from my talented son’s brush, for sale.

( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs )

Squidhands(dylan)web

Refuse, Effervescence and Doodles

Writing about something every fortnight and not becoming boring and downright horrible is not easy. At this point in time, my blog posts always have R.E.D. type titles, and the challenge is to tie the three words into a believable context.

So here we go!

Refuse to understand? Or is it the refuse that we throw away? It is a very hot topic at the moment – Waste! The detritus of human life. The rubbishing of our planet.garbage

And so it should be.

We can refuse to acknowledge the damage we are doing to this beautiful planet, living in the delusion of effervescent champagne and luxury, doodling around with our noses in the air, blaming the unknown hoards – the poor and uneducated – for the state of our environment.

Or we can do something about it.

Start to live our lives without the pull of ‘things’. Stop being brainwashed by the big corporations to buy, buy, buy. Material goods and chattels mean nothing, and can be taken away from us in a flash. And  are ultimately left behind when we die and then someone else has to clean up the mess.

Live your life close to the Earth. Grow what food you need, make your own clothes, recycle what you can. Compost your scraps. Give away your used and no longer useful items. Stop being scared of your life, and search for happiness in other ways.

Even if you live without a garden, or a place that’s safe, you can think. That is the greatest of Human’s gifts. Consider what you can do. A small container for compost, one less dress to wear that can go to a more unfortunate person, a pot of earth on a balcony or stairway with herbs growing to share with your neighbours  to make your food more palatable, or a hug and a smile and a handmade present for those around you instead of a plastic gift that breaks the first time it is used, and to top it off, was wrapped in plastic that adds to the rubbish pile as well.

I love gardening – the satisfaction of growing something to eat, knowing it is fresh and tasty is a wonderful feeling. Of course, it isn’t as magical as Jack and his beanstalk. you can’t just throw in a handful of seeds and next day find a beautiful plant. It takes time and effort. Bugs enjoy a good feed, too. The weeds enjoy well dug and fertilized soil – so there is plenty of competition.

Start by growing something you like to ear, that’s hardy and suits your area. No point in growing zucchini if you hate them! zuc

There are plenty of books and hints everywhere if you really want to learn. Vegetables like a decent soil, and you need to boost the soil to give them the nutrition they need ( if you grow a spindly underfed broccoli, then you also don’t get the nutrients from the plant either).

Making compost, using weeds in water to create a liquid fertilizer and making sure they have enough water without drowning them will see a healthy and flourishing garden.

Would you like more help with gardening ideas?

With kindness

Maureen.

P.S. the next chapter of ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’ is up on my next page. (readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ). Also the paperback is now launched and available from me for $15AU. Free postage within Australia.panda2

 

 

 

Return, Ebooks and Determination

One thing you can say about me – I have determination!

Every time life knocks me over, I get up and, like the old song, dust myself off and start all over again.

Although you might not realize it, I’ve been on this planet for 7 decades, and I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve been married (twice), had two children, (lost 4 to miscarriage), been abused, been praised and been loved. But, whatever comes my way, I get up and face life again.

I have returned to the one thing I have loved, and wanted, all my life – the country.

I have 12 acres of beauty, on which I grow as much food as I can, keep chickens for eggs,  and pick the vegetables and fruit as fresh as possible.

I also have bees for honey and pollination and to save the wonderful creatures from the foibles of mankind and his destruction, with poisons, of their pristine flowers. A byproduct of honey ain’t half bad either.meandbees

I teach music and do the occasional market with my fresh produce.

Since I’ve been by myself, I’ve turned my hand to writing. Another love. (see viewAuthor.at/MaureenLarter as well as viewAuthor.at/MargueriteWellbourne )

I love to write for children because I believe every child has the right to the opportunity to learn, and books, I hope, prod their natural curiosity. One thing that annoys me though. Children’s books should be read while the child is on a parent’s lap. E-books just don’t have the same ambiance. And to further complicate the problem, picture books just don’t sit correctly on an e-reader.

Now, I self-publish – at my home. My books are all in print form as paperbacks. Something you can hold, love and smell. Just pop my name into the URL bar to have an idea of what I do. If you want one, don’t hesitate to message me.

Now that I’ve told you a bit about me – here’s something for you.

Did you know you can use mashed potato in a cake?

Yummy Bun:-

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup mashed potatoes, 1 cup SR flour, 1 cup wholemeal flour, ¾ cup sugar, 1 tspn salt, 1 ½ cup mixed dried fruit/sultanas, 1 cup milk.

Icing:

1 cup icing sugar, 1 tspn vanilla essence, 1-2 tblspns lemon juice and water, 2-3 drops food colouring (optional)

  1. Pre-bunheat oven to 180-200°C.
  2. Place mashed potatoes in a bowl and add sugar. Mix well.
  3. Add fruit.
  4. Sift flours and salt together.
  5. Add to potato mixture alternately with milk.
  6. Place in two greased loaf tins or one large cake tin.
  7. Bake for approx 45 mins.
  8. Remove from pan/s and allow to cool slightly. Ice while still just warm.
  9. Icing: mix all ingredients until it is a stiff consistency.
  10. Cut into slices to serve. Maybe buttered if you desire. Serves 6-8.

I hope you enjoy this tasty treat.

More from me in a fortnight.  Remember to check out my next two pages – the next chapter of my book is free to read on page two, and some art for sale on page three.

With kindness

Maureen

Roasts, Eucalyptus and Depression.

I remember when I was young – (don’t you just hate those type of comments, you know, like:– ‘In the olden days’ etc) – the Sunday roast was the highlight meal of the week. The rest of the week was meat and 3 veg – every night!

Haven’t we come a long way in our culinary tastes. Even this recipe includes sweet potato, which wasn’t in my childhood.

Roast potato, pumpkin and sweet potato mix.

roast

2 kg potatoes, peeled, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1.2 kg sweet potato, peeled and cut into large pieces, 1/4 cup olive oil, sea salt flakes, 1.2 kg piece of pumpkin, seeds removed and cut into large pieces.

  1. Preheat oven to 200°c.
  2. Peel potatoes and place in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil over high heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and cool.
  3. Use a fork to rough up the surface. Place potatoes in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until well coated. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
  4. Remove seeds from pumpkin. Cut into large pieces. Peel sweet potato and cut into large pieces. Place pumpkin and sweet potato in a roasting pan. Add olive oil and toss until well coated. Roast for 1 hour or until golden and cooked through. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes to serve.

When Europe was still under the effects of WW2, and depression and rations were everywhere, our family saved hard and paid our passage to Australia. It was a young and vibrant country, and everyone agreed.  The influx of migrants began. We saw the arrival of Italians, Lebanese and even Germans. There were a lot of prejudice in those days, and worse still when the Asian ‘invasion’ occurred.

Now we live, mostly, in harmony. And the benefits certainly outweighed the disadvantages.

Before this time, I’d never heard of eggplant, broccoli, sweet potato or zucchini. Now these are common delicacies.

zucNowadays, I grow all of these vegetables, and more. The zucchini is abundant, and when in season, produces far more than we could possibly eat. So… what to do with all of them (before they grow to torpedo size!) ?

Here is a recipe that can be eaten hot or cold (ideal for school lunches, too!) and adds some extra vegetables in as well.

Zucchini slice:-

½ cup brown rice, 1 carrot, grated, 1 or 2 zucchini, grated, 1 small can corn kernels, drain, wash, ¼ cup chopped chives, 1 cup cheese, grated, extra grated cheese for top, ¾ cup SR flour, 4 eggs, ½ cup milk, ¼ cup sweet chilli sauce (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 180-200°. Grease and prepare a slice tin
  2. Cook rice to instructions on packet. Allow to cool.
  3. Combine rice, carrot, zucchini, corn, chives, cheese and flour in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs, chilli sauce and milk together in a jug.
  5. Add to rice mixture and mix well.
  6. Spread in tin, sprinkle with extra cheese, then bake for approx 35 mins, until cooked through and lightly browned.
  7. Stand in pan for 20 mins then slice and serve hot or cold. Serves 8.

And while we are at it – here’s a yummy pickles too.:-

Sweet Zucchini/Cucumber Pickles:zuccs

Slice 5 kg zucchini and/or cucumber and 5 kg onions thinly. Soak overnight in a 3/4 cup salt in water.

Next morning drain and rinse. Place in a vinegar mixture of 5 cups white vinegar and 5 cups white sugar. Add 1 teaspn of mustard and 1 teaspn of turmeric. Bring to the boil and boil for about 10-15 minutes. I then added thickener.(about quarter cup and tblspn cornflour). Place in hot, sterilized jars and seal.

I actually halved the zucchini, onions and cucumber, but kept the rest as it was, which is why I needed to put some thickener in it. You could possibly add a little less sugar, too. If you halve everything that may not be needed.

And just in case you’d rather sit out under the Eucalyptus trees or on the verandah, with wine glass filled with your favourite tipple, you can even make Zucchini chips, doused in a tasty spice powder mixture.

Zucchini crisps:-

Slice zucchinis thinly then deep fry in an oil of your choice. Scoop out and place on absorbent paper to remove excess oil, then tumble in a bag of spice mix. The spice mix can include garlic powder, grated Parmesan cheese, chili powder and/or any other combination that suits your taste. You can always experiment!

With kindness

Maureen

P.S. – lots of recipes today – nice to jumble up my blog sometimes.

Also – chapter 7 of ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ is up on my second page:-panda2(readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book)

and another example of Mykey’s Art (already sold) on third page:- (readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs)

Squidhands(dylan)web

 

Ricotta, Enjoyment and Dandelions.

One of the joys I have in my life is preserving the produce off my own land and that includes cheeses. At one stage, Nelly the cow gave me milk in abundance – so it was expedient to use it in any way I could.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

My previous cow -Shani. My new cow – ‘Nellie’ is  black and white.

So … I made butter and ghee, ice-cream and yoghurt, which then led to Labneh and then to cottage, cream and ricotta soft cheeses.

Soft cheese is not difficult to make. For Labneh it is simply the hanging of the yoghurt until the liquid has drained out.

To make the yoghurt I got in touch with Cheeselinks ( https://www.cheeselinks.com.au  )  and bought the bacteria and their excellent book.

Ricotta means ‘re-cooked’ in Italian, and after making the other soft cheeses, the addition of a little more milk to the whey (the liquid left after the milk forms curds of cheese) and heating it – you get the cheese.

The activity of milking your own cow is rewarding, but the enjoyment of turning that wonderfully fresh milk into other products is even better.

And, talking about produce on your own land, with the help of bees, you get honey as well. I have two hives, and that gives me enough honey to sell a little, and use all year. They are fascinating insects, and an absorbing hobby – and when the clover, flat-weed and dandelions flower in my lawn, it gives me the perfect excuse not to mow! (in Australia, dandelions are often mistaken for flatweeds. They are very similar. Flatweeds have multiple flowers to a stem, where dandelions only have one. )imagesdandI just make sure I wear shoes, and don’t step on any of the girl worker bees as they go about their business collecting the nectar.

The beauty of the Australian bush, is that we have flowering Eucalypts, which the European honey bees adore. There are Grevilleas, Banksias and Wattles, too – an absolute cornucopia for insects. We also have many native bees, so when the Gums are in blossom, the place hums.

I started with dreams of self-sufficiency, which is why I got cows and bees and chickens. I planted vegetables with abandon, then realized bees also needed flowers. It has been a wonderful learning experience and I recommend the journey to others.

I am now in my seventies and I still garden, feed the stock, collect the eggs, rob the bees of excess honey and preserve my harvest. It keeps me young in heart and mind, as well as keeping my body healthier than I would have been otherwise.

I have 12 acres, but most of the things I do can be accomplished on a suburban block – including keeping bees.

So keep dreaming, look after your body and mind, be aware of the environment and enjoy wonderful, natural food.

With Kindness

Maureen.

P.S. Chapter 2 of ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’ is up this week.  (https://readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book)panda2

as well as a new painting for sale from Mykel. (https://readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs)

Rain, Excitement and Dates.

rainI never realized when I lived in the city. The outpourings from the sky were a nuisance. I had a life to lead, time to play, and I found it cramped my style. It made me miserable and grumpy.

Rain.

That’s what I’m talking about!

I smile now, when it rains.

I live in the country and try to grow my own food. Admittedly, I have to fight snails, slugs, rats, possums, kangaroos, wallabies and other sundry animals who love the tenderness of fresh growing food – but I persevere.  So … when it rains, I get excited.

The soil greets the water like a long lost friend, and the plants lift their leaves heavenward with gratitude. There is excitement in the air. Farmers around here are delighted – and ask for more. Even when it floods, the ground water is topped up, even though so much water always runs away, and sometimes creates sour soil.

I always consider it amazing that I can diligently water the garden with the collected rain water in my tank, but the plants do so much better with the offerings from the clouds.

I always wondered why – but the truth is, the Earth is full of wondrous events, and rain, as it falls collects all sorts of minerals and bacteria that the soil needs. That is the horror of our neglect – that when ‘acid’ rain falls – it has collected the chemicals so thoughtlessly spread about our globe, often by unthinking communities.Earth

I could turn this post into a diatribe about the awful effects of mankind, but I refuse. We have a beautiful planet on which we live and need to learn appreciation and love for our environment instead.

Let’s make a date – let’s create a feeling of thankfulness, and – like Earth Day – and the turning off of lights to conserve the energy of our home – let’s form a time when we all agree to create a better Earth around our small area of paradise.

I am aware that many places on Earth are ravaged by war, poverty and violence. Places and companies that scarify the beauty, but with one step at a time, one place at a time, one person at a time, we can make a difference. I am also aware that many of us are already trying our best to improve the way our society treats our planet.

Keep going and keep hoping.

Start now – in your own small way, and let’s hope we can grow the movement into a huge benefit for our planet. Let’s make this dream a reality, too.

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. just started on a new chapter book for children. I haven’t got a title yet, but it is about the search for a wild Giant Panda by a young girl. I will be uploading a chapter at a time soon, on my second page, for you all to read and comment upon.panda2

P.P.S. As per request :-

Quick Date, Apricot and Sunflower seed slice.

  • 125 g dried apricots, chopped.
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 cup self-raising flour sifted
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dates chopped
  • 170 g butter melted
  • 1 pinch salt

 

Preheat oven to 160C. Grease and line a 18 x 28 cm (7″ x 11″) slice tin.

Soak  chopped apricots in enough boiling water to just cover them. Allow to soak for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl combine sugar, self raising flour, sunflower seeds, chopped dates and salt. Add strained apricots and melted butter. Mix well.

Spread mixture out in a slice tin and smooth the top.

Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until cooked. Sprinkle with a little toasted coconut or icing sugar if desired. Allow to cool before cutting into slices.

 

Radishes, Eastern and Dahlias.

Did you know that after the atomic bomb hit Japan and there was so much destruction, the first things that were grown – on a hospital window sill – were radishes?

This gave hope to the devastated people.

War is so terrible – innocent people get hurt with horrific wounds, let alone be killed. I saw the effects in Cambodia, and yet – still – somewhere on the planet, there is war. It doesn’t seem to matter where you are, peace is hard to maintain. It makes me sad.

I live on the Eastern side of Australia, and even here, there are crimes, anger and violence within homes and communities. Seems to be that humans can’t learn – and the urge to violence is in all of us. If we can’t get along with our family or friends or near community, how an earth can there ever be peace on Earth?

What with guns used indiscriminately and cruelties against women, the world, for all its beauty, is an uncomfortable place to be at times. I have just about finished a novel about domestic violence – so much in the news at present – and it wasn’t an easy book to write. It is called ‘Ordeal by Innocence’ and should be available soon. Book cover by Francessca Wingfield. OrdealbyIa

OK – enough! Lets\’s talk about other things.

Here is a lovely salad recipe, using radishes, from Coles free magazine – February 2017 Page 4 – feel free to go and look at all the free magazines at you leisure. img257

( http://www.coles.com.au/magazine#view=catalogue2&saleId=15442&page=4 )

The other thing that happened this week was our local country town show. Country shows in Australia are the event to show off our produce, stock and horses. imagesaSo there are judging for cows and calves/ sheep and goats. Even poultry. In the pavilion, we have knitting, crotchet, quilling, quilting and dressmaking. We also have flowers such as Dahlias,downloaddroses, lilies and plants of all kinds. Everything is judged and gets a ribbon.

The schools also enter displays.

clownSide-show alley is alive and well, and stalls sell all sorts of things.

 

Tractors, mowers and machinery are all on show. We have a rodeo one nightdownloadf, and a demolition derby on the next.downloadb

 

 

 

 

Great fun for all ages and on top of that gives the next year’s entries something to dream about.

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. – Here is a lovely picture book for children about a concert or show. “Ben Brolga’s BenfrontBand’ is about Australian birds that dance, and they form a band, giving a concert to all there friends in the bush. It is FREE if you email me for it. My email is maureenlarter@gmail.com

This is also shown on my next page.